Tag Archive: Thomas Mann


“Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.” – Henry Kissinger

“It is for the rising German generation … unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” — Thomas Mann

Germany is not a chill place.

Don’t get Almost DailyBrett wrong, you certainly can have a great time in Germany (e.g., beer gardens in München, wine in castles along the Rhine).

Having said that: There is no que será, será; in Deutschland.

Since 1945, the Germans have transformed their once-devastated, occupied and divided land and through their legendary industriousness into the #4 GDP ($3.68 trillion) in the world, and the nation with the second largest trade surplus at $274 billion.

The question for today’s discussion: Why is today’s Germany cool, calm and collected compared to its once three Western occupying allies: United States, United Kingdom and, France?

Watching ARD’s Tagesschau night-after-night, your author is struck by the absence of angry talking Teutonic heads. Certainly, Germany has its share of weighty issues and political power pontificators, but there are no discussions of glorious defeat impeachment, broken down Brexit negotiations or roaming gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in the streets.

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche promised to reform France. He quickly found out the reality of how difficult it is to change the nation that has turned defending the status quo into an art form.

Some have questioned whether the United States will ever have a woman president, three years after the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. Almost DailyBrett is confident the answer will eventually be “yes,’ just not Madam Secretary or any reasonable facsimile.

Theresa May serves as the U.K.’s second woman prime minister for another week, but she was eventually beaten down by as The Economist’s cover proclaimed, “The Mother of All Messes.”

Moving one time-zone to the east, one finds Kanzlerin Angela Merkel finishing her fourth term … no later than 2021 … as the first woman leader … and most likely not the last for das Vaterland.

Even though her decision to allow 1 million or more asylum seekers into Germany in 2015 was obviously too much, too fast and … let’s face it … a mistake, she will nonetheless go down in history as one of the country’s best chancellors.

Feminizing The Fatherland

Merkel has turned down the temperature in Germany. The nation even in the face of its horrific recent history (e.g., 1933-1945) has seemingly completed its Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past.

Germany has finally become a normal country, and serves as the rock in the middle of the wobbly European Union. Britain may eventually leave the EU, but Almost DailyBrett expects the German-French leadership duopoly to endure.

Your author was amazed about the Tagesschau (Daily Show) news coverage of the resignation of the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) Andrea Nahles in the wake of the party’s poor results in the European Commission and Bremen election.

BERLIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 07: Malu Dreyer (L) and Manuela Schwesing (R), vice-chairwomen of the of the German Social Democrats (SPD), attend the federal party congress on December 7, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

She was replaced for now by two women: Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and one hombre Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel.

Germany’s other parties were quick to offer commentary and respect to Nahles, and their leaders were for the most part women: Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Christian Democrats: Annalena Baerbock, The Greens; Linda Teuteberg, Free Democrats; Katja Kipping, The Left and Beatrix von Storch, Alternative for Germany.

Other than Baby Boomer Merkel, 64, these women for the most part are Gen Xers or Millennials. The baton is being passed to the next generations of German leadership.

Almost DailyBrett is treading cautiously in suggesting the obvious (and desperately needed) softening of Germany’s scorched earth image has been greatly assisted by the presence of calm, confident women (e.g., Merkel).

After the world’s worst disastrous explosion of testosterone fueled über-nationalism, Germany needed to turn down the temperature and start the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding its brand.

However history judges Angela Merkel, there is zero doubt that she has bolstered the country’s image by softening it.

Today’s headlines reported The Greens within one percentage point of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. At some point there will be a new chancellor.

Almost DailyBrett is betting that Deutschland’s next leader will be another strong Frau with Merkel’s competence and calmness.

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/trade-surplus-by-country.html

https://www.politico.eu/article/german-social-democrats-nominate-trio-for-interim-party-leadership-manuela-schwesig-malu-dreyer-thorsten-schaefer-guembel/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1137200/angela-Merkel-news-latest-poll-popularity-results-cdu-spd-coalition-germany-politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/06/06/why-angela-merkel-wouldnt-feel-awkward-d-day-celebrations/?utm_term=.ad3708e74e7d

Hillary’s election was “inevitable” in the 2007-2008 presidential election cycle.

As we all know, it didn’t quite work out that way.

hillaryobama2008

For months, we have been told once again that at least her 2016 Democratic nomination was “inevitable,” and quite possibly her election as the 45th president of the United States could be phoned in as well.

The plan commenced with the “Hard Choices” book tour, followed by ones-and-zeroes binary code video presidential candidacy announcement, and then bus tours to listen to average voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The path seemed so easy … until it wasn’t.

Almost DailyBrett will refrain from taking a deep dive into the plethora of errors including declaring the first couple was “dead broke,” the myriad of allegations of conflict of interest regarding the Clinton Foundation and of course, the wiped clean private email server … that damned server.

We are 14 months away from 2016 election day, and the tenacity of the Clintons should never be underestimated. There is still time for the “inevitable” to once again be inevitable.

Maybe to understand why “inevitability,” which some could very well equate with arrogance, is not quite working, it is instructive to appreciate the profiles of two very powerful women: Madam Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kanzerlin Angela Merkel.

Never Take The Electorate for Granted

“….It is for the rising German generation, for German youth, to dispel the mistrust, this fear, by rejecting what has long been rejected and clearly and unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” – Author Thomas Mann

One is known as “Mutti” or a German term of endearment for “mother.”

The other is closer to being America’s mother in law.

This month, Angela Merkel will mark her 10th year as the second longest-serving Chancellor of the modern iteration of the Vaterland, the European Union’s strongest economy: Germany. Merkel bristles at the notion that she is the first female chancellor of Germany, preferring to be seen as the first German chancellor, who just happens to be a woman.

After the evil demagoguery that led to Germany’s eternal shame, most Germans want their nation to be seen as normal. They desire their country to be regarded as  an integral part of Europe, not for Europe to be an essential  part of Germany.

Ever compromising Angela Merkel has served as a calming influence for the 80 million inhabitants of Germany. Yes, she has ruffled feathers in rebellious Greece and other southern European nations, but that is a result of fiscal austerity policy not because of her personality.merkel2

She and her Union parties will be required to call an election in two years’ time. Certainly, there will be no proclamations of inevitability. Instead, the anticipated rhetoric will be along the lines of her earlier, Deutschland’s Zukunft in Guten Händen (Germany’s Future in Good Hands). Merkel will once again want to be seen as a strong mother figure, which seems to suit the Vaterland with no desire to flex its muscles ever again. Germany has been repeatedly described as the reluctant hegemon.

“Run as if you are running behind; Take Nothing for Granted”

The folks who attend the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are notoriously fickle.

The same maybe even more true with the Live Free or Die crowd in no-state-sales-tax New Hampshire, the site of the country’s initial primary.

These are retail states. These are states that want to see the candidates in living rooms, coffee shops and factory gates. They are fiercely independent. They don’t want to be taken for granted. Their support is anything but inevitable.NHvoters

If elected, Hillary Rodham Clinton will make history as the first woman president of the United States. Her other half, William Jefferson Clinton, will be the nation’s First Man, a position he has previously held … albeit in another capacity.

From a public relations, marketing, reputation management standpoint is it best to campaign to be the first woman president of the United States or the first president of the United States, who just happens to be a woman?

If Angela Merkel was born in Hampton Roads as opposed to Hamburg, there would be no campaign focused on her inevitability. She would undoubtedly prefer to be the first president of the United States, who happens to be a woman.

Reflecting back on my days working on George Deukmejian’s successful California gubernatorial campaigns and also in his media office in the Office of the Governor, we always ran as if we were running behind (even when we won by a record 61-37 percent margin in 1986), and we took absolutely nothing for granted.

Do the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire believe they are being taken for granted, let alone residents of South Carolina, Nevada and the other states that will follow on the primary/caucus calendar?

Almost DailyBrett contends the electorate is much more tuned in than many of those within the confines of the Beltway believe, ditto many of those in the hallowed halls of academia.

Maybe Hillary and her trained spokespeople would be well advised to be a tad more humble, and focus on Hillary becoming America’s first president, who happens to be a woman.

The image of Mutti is far more endearing than America’s inevitable Mother in Law.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/09/02/what-hillarys-sinking-poll-numbers-really-mean-in-one-chart/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/09/02/hillary-clintons-image-is-struggling-but-shes-no-donald-trump-or-jeb-bush/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-clinton-remains-yes-inevitable/2015/09/03/57de7cdc-5273-11e5-8c19-0b6825aa4a3a_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/01/angela-merkel-profile

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/why-is-merkel-still-so-popular/279887/

http://www.angela-merkel.de/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-sanders-vs-clinton-new-hampshire-replays-past-splits/2015/09/07/072ac4ec-5581-11e5-b8c9-944725fcd3b9_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

 

 

 

 

 

“A thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will not be erased.” – Nazi Governor of Poland Hans Frank at the Nürnberg Trails.

“It is for the rising German generation … unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” – Author, Novelist Thomas Mann

There really isn’t any specific German word or words for public relations.

The closest appears to be Öffentlichkeitsarbeit or literally public sphere work.

Nonetheless there has been an Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder in Germany in less than 70 years since the end of World War II and the discovery of the massive savagery of the Holocaust.

How can a country that was literally wiped flat and left with an indelible stain on its brand and reputation ever become the “Most Popular County in the World” in much less than a century, if one believes the chaps at the BBC?

merkel

According to a random quantitative survey of 26,000 respondents in 25 countries conducted for the BBC, Germany finished first with a 59 percent approval rating vs. 15 percent, who disapprove. It should be noted that respondents were precluded from voting for their own country, so this result is truly a result of how Germany is seen around the world.

What this means is that during the course of nearly seven decades of surrender, occupation, division, rebuilding, reunification and now as the unofficial leader and banker of the European Union, Germany is not only seen as a normal country…a timid one at that…but a nation to be admired.

Two factors immediately come to mind: The healing power of time and how most people view success (der Erfolg).

This post is not my first foray into the question of the enhancement of the German brand (see my earlier Feminizing the Fatherland), but it does trigger a discussion about how one of the most despised nations in the history of the planet can now be the most admired.

As I pondered providing an answer to this question, I walked into the reported largest book store in the world, Powell’s Books, which takes up an entire block in the Northwest quadrant of Portland, Oregon.

Predictably, I found the majority of the hundreds of titles about Germany focused on the NS Zeit or the Nazi times with vivid descriptions of Hitler’s terror, the war and the ovens and gas chambers of the Holocaust.

As a result, there are literally hundreds of movies and television shows (e.g., Schindler’s List, Defiance, Hogan’s Heroes) that make the Germans out to be monsters or klutzy. Recent ads for Beck’s Beer in the United States portray the anal side of the Germans, suggesting that the Teutonic types take their humor, recreation and romance very seriously.

Public relations essentially evolved as an outgrowth of the industrial revolution in America, and it was used to protect the strong business positions of Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and other industrialists at the time.

Conversely, one should never confuse Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels with the practice of public relations. Goebbels’ mission was to control all media and thus dominate thought within Germany and conquered nations, not to project a positive image of Nazi Germany to the world.

After the war ended and the horrors of the Final Solution became apparent, Germany still needed to be rebuilt and with it the image of a democratic state strategically aligned to the West in the center of Europe.

What were some of the factors that led from the rubble to the most popular nation on Earth? Here are some factors for discussion and further research:

brandenburggate

● The Marshall Plan, $13 billion reconstruction of Europe program, spearheaded by Secretary of State George Marshall. The program accelerated the comeback of the European continent, and set the groundwork for Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder or Economic Miracle.

● Speaking of miraculous events, there was also the 1954 “Miracle of Bern” when upstart West Germany won its first World Cup. West Germany won again in 1974 with “Kaiser Franz” Beckenbauer as captain, and yet again as a reunified country in 1990 with Beckenbauer serving as coach. German sports stars, including Beckenbauer, Oliver Bierhof, Lothar Matthias, Jürgen Klinsmann, Miroslav Klöse, Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Katarina Witt, have all contributed to softening the nation’s image and projecting a people focused on success.

● Even though Bayer was owned by IG Farben, which made the poisonous Zyklon B used at Auschwitz and other Nazi camps, the company is best known for inventing aspirin. German engineering is legendary and its products and companies are legion including: Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW), Daimler Benz, Porsche, Vokwagen, BASF, Siemens, Deutsche Telekom, Systemen, Anwendugen und Programmen (SAP), Becks, Spaten, Aldi (owner of Trader Joe’s) and many others.

● The 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall (ein Stück der Mauer ist an meinen Tisch), the subsequent collapse of East Germany and the reunification of the country, focused the world’s attention once again…but from a positive standpoint…on das Land in der Mitte.

●The formation of the European Union and the resulting currency reform (Is the Euro the Deutsche Mark in drag?) placed Germany as the EU’s largest and wealthiest nation in a leadership position, even though the Germans eschew the word, Führer.

Early leadership by Germany in environmental protection as evidenced by the apparent strength of die Grünen or Green Party, the planned shutdown of the nation’s nuclear reactors and the 80 percent energy consumption from renewables target.

● The open admission of German responsibility for not only World War II, but the systematic liquidation of approximately 6 million Jews and others that were deemed to be undesirable (Untermenschen) by the Nazis. Besides official memorials, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Stolpersteinen (bronze stepping stones) that commemorate those who lived in particular German towns, who were then kidnapped and murdered.

● A five-year old held captive in one of the Concentration Camps on liberation day in 1945 would be 73 today. The World War II generation is inevitably dying out. And with their passing goes direct memory of the horrors of Nazi Germany. Time is on the side of the new democratic Germany.

● Chancellor Angela Merkel is ironically the female head of state of the Fatherland. Even though her politics are similar to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Merkel is seen as pragmatic and willing to compromise…traits not associated with Britain’s “Iron Lady.” This week, The Economist suggested that Merkel’s Germany is a “reluctant hegemon,” more than happy to be an economic, export-oriented power, but preferring to take a Switzerland mode when it comes to global leadership.

● This week, Barack Obama will be the fourth sitting American president (his second trip there) to speak in Berlin. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this Wall” speeches are seared into our collective memories. Germany’s capitol is a symbol of the universal quest for freedom.

germanflag

Even though there are some that dredge up the past, including placing Hitler mustaches and Nazi armbands on caricatures of Merkel, Germany is increasingly seen as doing something right. Labor and management work together. Wages are competitive. The nation’s unemployment rate is low. The country is a legendary manufacturer and exporter.

And now Germany is the most popular nation in the world…at least according to one very prominent poll. Who could ever believe this result, even for a nanosecond, more than two generations ago? It’s time to delve into what appears to be a public relations miracle.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22624104

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21974496

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100761312

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mann

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21578448-what-germanys-football-victory-says-about-its-role-europe-tor-tor-tor

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

http://www.powells.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schindler%27s_List

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Vanderbilt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer

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